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Thread: Our New Tandem

  1. #1
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    Our New Tandem

    Hello all. I'm new here. New to tandeming too.
    After riding my hybrid bike and feeling numb in lots of unfun places, I got a recumbent.
    After riding the recumbent with a friend and not being able to catch him on his flyweight road bike, I got one of those and lots of padded bike shorts.
    Then I found the RANS crankforwards...
    Bought a Cruz, (here it is)


    and a frameset and dismantled my roadbike to make a custom Zenetik.
    Here is is...


    The Zenetik is a quick bike, at 23(oops, I had to fix this... I'd originally said 32... dyslexia ya know) lbs. Shown above is also the Adams trail-a-bike I got to tow my son. That was an exercise in scaryness.
    So, with much faith that I'd be able to make the most of it, I bought a RANS Dynamik Duo from Nanda at www.spincyclz.com (where I got the others) and have been really happy with it.
    I thought we'd use it more as a couple towing our son, but my wife seems to prefer to ride the Cruz behind us and keep and eye on our son as he rides on the back of the Duo with me. Hey, whatever keeps us a happy riding family.

    Here's a pic of the big rig - set up for adult captain and stoker, with the trail-a-bike hooked up.



    But here's real bicycling nirvana for me: I modified the seat so my 5 year old son can reach the pedals with crankshorteners. It's working like a charm. No kidstoker kit needed, and he can keep growing into it. So we load our stuff into the panniers (not shown here but used all the time) and hit the road whenever we can. I can't believe how much power he's got. He stands and pedals. I was quite impressed when he first did it today, and let him do it to see what he has, but I think I'm going to get him some pedal clips from now on so he does not slip off the pedals and get hurt.



    I've been a participant on BROL and the crankforward.com message boards, but I thought since this is a tandem board with some activity going on, I'd post here.

    Eric
    Last edited by BlueWhale; 08-31-07 at 06:33 AM.

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    High Octane superunleaded's Avatar
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    NICE...
    with S&S couplers too.

    Welcome to the tandem world.

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    Good to see your new bikes.

    How does the crank forward position work out? What is the thinking behind it? I can understand that it might be more comfortable, but I would think that you end up almost standing upright, meaning the aerodynamics at over 15mph work against you.

    Regarding keeping up with your friend, lots of training is your friend here - it takes a few thousand miles to get bike-fit. After all you wouldn't expect to go to the tennis court a few times and start serving like the williams sisters would you?

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    Some very nice pics of the bike and your son (oh yeah, you too, lol)!

    Do you have info and a pic of the adapter you used to mount your TAB to the tandem? At least it looks like you needed an adapter.

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    Quote Originally Posted by mrfish View Post
    Good to see your new bikes.

    How does the crank forward position work out? What is the thinking behind it? I can understand that it might be more comfortable, but I would think that you end up almost standing upright, meaning the aerodynamics at over 15mph work against you.

    Regarding keeping up with your friend, lots of training is your friend here - it takes a few thousand miles to get bike-fit. After all you wouldn't expect to go to the tennis court a few times and start serving like the williams sisters would you?
    As for the crankforward position, it's working out well. As for the thinking behind it, it's probably easier if you visit www.crankforward.com or www.ransbikes.com, or the guy I've been getting them from at www.spincyclz.com. All I know is that after dealing with post ride pain (even after being fit by a pro), I'm not sure I'd go back to a conventional DF or even a 'bent (unless it's a trike - but not unless I lived near a carless place to ride). Yes, the upright position can work against you at times of strong winds, but on the polished aluminum one you see hooked to the trail-a-bike, I'm able to cruise at 20 and tuck down a little. I took that bike on a ride with some roadies. I was wearing jeans. They're all outfitted in road bike gear. They were a B- or wanna-B group of cyclists. They laughed at me. Until we got to the 25 mile mark and they all had lots of questions, and soreness. Me, I was comfy. And happy to answer questions about my 23lb Campy equipped crank forward bike that causes me no pain. By the time we got back to the cars it was a 60 mile ride and I was ready for another 40 at least. They were all happy to be off of their bicycles.

    The story above, highly condensed, failed to mention that after I bought my road bike and went riding with my friend, he and I found out that my pedaling a 40lb recumbent all that time meant that when it came to our end of the ride sprints to see who got to my garage first, it was usually me. We rode 25 miles twice a week, and 50 miles on weekends. I got into great shape. Then came our boy, and my hybrid got the bike seat when he was old enough to be in it, and now here I am 5 and a half years later with not a whole lot of time to ride alone, so me and my 44 lb boy, and 45+ lb bicycle are giving me quite the workout.

    I should go out now for a ride by myself but I'm a bit wiped out at the moment. A ride would perk me up, I'm sure. We'll see.

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    Quote Originally Posted by masiman View Post
    Some very nice pics of the bike and your son (oh yeah, you too, lol)!

    Do you have info and a pic of the adapter you used to mount your TAB to the tandem? At least it looks like you needed an adapter.
    Thanks for the kind words. That's my boy. He's the light of my life. My riding partner. My inspiration.

    The trail-a-bike typically mounts to a seatpost of the adult's bike. However, when connected that way on a crank forward bike, the hitching point was at such an angle that the trail-a-bike did not track correctly in turns, leaning in the opposite direction in fact. So, because I really wanted to ride the crank-forward to tow my son and not my old hybrid bike, I made a hitch.

    Basically the hitch clamps around the seat post much as the trail-a-bike's stock clamp does, and then I made a hitch tongue that juts out off the back of the seatpost clamp and straight over the back tire, with an upright post for the trail-a-bike's stock clamp to attach to.

    This allows the trail-a-bike to track perfectly. The seat posts are all the same between the three bikes, so any of the bikes can tow the trail-a-bike if you swap the seat and post with the hitch on it. The orange Cruz is the best at it, because the geometry of the bike makes it lower and more stable. The Dynamik Duo is Ok too, but plenty long and you have to be really careful in suburban settings. People are NOT paying attention. The polished aluminum Zenetik is the last choice for towing, given it's intent as a road bike, and the tail wags the dog, as it were, when towing a wiggly 44 lb boy on a 20 lb trail-a-bike.


    Had I known then what I know now, I'd have tried harder to get a Burley Piccolo. They're not made anymore, but they're a lot more stable because of the hitch design (attached to a strong rack) and can be found used, often for more than they cost new. I had a smaller budget at the time I did it so with the Adam's sale price, it was what I could afford then. After the first few times of use I found that there's slop in the trail-a-bike's stock setup that makes it tippy from side to side, but some see that as a feature - allowing the child to learn to balance between the ends of the play. Not my son, he was content to ride listing one way or the other. If I reminded him to balance, he would, but then when he'd get tired of doing that he'd lean and I'd need to correct my steering input. Rather than make our rides about constant reminders, I'll wait until he thinks he's ready to try his own two wheels again. So that's why I'm really happy to just have him on the back of the Dynamik Duo, aka the big blue whale.
    Last edited by BlueWhale; 08-30-07 at 05:19 PM.

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    I had a quick look at the crankforward site - The bikes look like fun, and certainly seem to have some of the best bits of ordinary bikes and recumbents. Maybe I'll try one when they come to the UK.

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    Quote Originally Posted by BlueWhale View Post
    That arrangement rivals the fifth wheel setup of the Burley Piccolo. Neat.
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    Quote Originally Posted by mrfish View Post
    I had a quick look at the crankforward site - The bikes look like fun, and certainly seem to have some of the best bits of ordinary bikes and recumbents. Maybe I'll try one when they come to the UK.
    There are message boards at www.crankforward.com. If you ask there, you might find someone in the UK that already has one you can ride. People who ride these bikes, myself included, are generally willing to allow others to try them out. I'm one of the few CF owners in the New York area, and I am always willing to let people try the bikes.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Gus Riley View Post
    That arrangement rivals the fifth wheel setup of the Burley Piccolo. Neat.
    Thanks, Gus. That's what I was going for. An upright attachment point.. the fifth wheel.

    The pic here is not the latest one of the hitch, I just realized it does not show the steel upright tab I welded to the underside right at the bend, to minimize vertical flex (it worked) and the keepers I made for each side of the fifth wheel post to keep the stock clamp on the trail-a-bike from pivoting left to right. No jackknifing allowed. There's plenty of play in the trail-a-bike's built in pivots. I would like to take the slop out of it. I bought some nylon spacers I was going to try.

    Eric

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    Eric,

    Awesome bikes. When we start shopping for our new tandem we definitely need to check out the RANS CF bike.

    Also, just to let you know, Burley has begun production on the Piccolo again. The official word is they will be available in January but a couple dealers I've spoken to expect to have them by late fall.

    Roland

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    Quote Originally Posted by BlueWhale View Post
    Had I known then what I know now, I'd have tried harder to get a Burley Piccolo. They're not made anymore, but they're a lot more stable because of the hitch design (attached to a strong rack) and can be found used, often for more than they cost new. I had a smaller budget at the time I did it so with the Adam's sale price, it was what I could afford then. After the first few times of use I found that there's slop in the trail-a-bike's stock setup that makes it tippy from side to side, but some see that as a feature - allowing the child to learn to balance between the ends of the play. Not my son, he was content to ride listing one way or the other. If I reminded him to balance, he would, but then when he'd get tired of doing that he'd lean and I'd need to correct my steering input. Rather than make our rides about constant reminders, I'll wait until he thinks he's ready to try his own two wheels again. So that's why I'm really happy to just have him on the back of the Dynamik Duo, aka the big blue whale.
    I understand perfectly . We started on a donated Kent Copilot that only made it on one test ride, after which we could get rid of it quick enough. I am sure the sway could have been fixed. It would allow ~25-30 deg. to each side. My 6 year old was about to fall off of it before he said anything. But I did not want to fight getting it to work. We did find a used Burley and have enjoyed it quite a bit. It is very secure in its tracking.

    Someone on the Rec forum said they heard from Burley that Piccolo production would resume in '08. Oh well, I guess I won't get that premium price for mine when I can get rid of it in another 5 years or so.

    I'll try to post a pic later of the Burley hitch to match your hitch picture.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Roland Owens View Post
    Eric,

    Awesome bikes. When we start shopping for our new tandem we definitely need to check out the RANS CF bike.

    Also, just to let you know, Burley has begun production on the Piccolo again. The official word is they will be available in January but a couple dealers I've spoken to expect to have them by late fall.

    Roland
    Thanks Roland. If I had known that the Piccolo was being resurrected, I might have held off on the tandem. Well, maybe not. The tandem really is the ultimate for he and I. He's right there behind me where I'd prefer him to be, now that I've experienced what it's like. But, if money becomes even less of an issue, maybe I'll get a Piccolo to replace the trail-a-bike for those times when my wife wants to be stoker. She's pretty much stated she prefers to be on a solo bike, and with that orange Cruz being it, I don't blame her. Our 4 rides twogether so far have been peppered with moments where I'd wondered what I could have been thinking. I'm not going to push her to do it, so unless she really wants to be the stoker, my son will be. Not a problem.

    Eric

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    Had seen the crank forward design Dynamik Duo at the Interbike show a couple years ago. Nice to see someone give their impression of this laid back semi-up/semi-bent design. Glad it's working out so well.
    What is the wheelbase on the Dynamk Duo?
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    The wheelbase of the Dynamik Duo is 80", according to the specs listed on the RANS website.
    Funny it does not feel that long when riding it, unless you're trying to turn it around in a small area, then it's not unlike turning a bus or tractor trailer. You see the front wheel is turned, but then you only seem to be pivoting at a point far behind you, rather than creating a nice arc. Not sure I'm getting my point across, but it's an odd feeling. That and going around 90 degree intersection type turns. I turn a little wide for fear of the back wheel or stoker crankset cutting across the curb. All part of getting used to riding a tandem I guess.

    Eric

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    Senior Member Jinker's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BlueWhale View Post
    The wheelbase of the Dynamik Duo is 80", according to the specs listed on the RANS website.
    Funny it does not feel that long when riding it, unless you're trying to turn it around in a small area, then it's not unlike turning a bus or tractor trailer. You see the front wheel is turned, but then you only seem to be pivoting at a point far behind you, rather than creating a nice arc. Not sure I'm getting my point across, but it's an odd feeling. That and going around 90 degree intersection type turns. I turn a little wide for fear of the back wheel or stoker crankset cutting across the curb. All part of getting used to riding a tandem I guess.

    Eric
    I think pretty much every tandem captain knows what you're talking about. Every time I do a u-turn on a street I always have to do a sanity check when I cross the yellow. Has the front wheel made 90 degrees of the turnaround? If not, stop and 3-point it!

    At slow speed there's that odd sensation that you're moving pretty much sideways.

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